Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mickey Harmon & Penelope

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Mickey Harmon and I am an illustrator and graphic designer. This is Penelope and she is just one year old and a miniature pinscher.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Everyday we walk over to Cafe Taza on Elmwood Avenue next door to Sweet Tooth and they all love Penelope so much and all the neighborhood dogs get to say hello to her.

What's brewing?

If not Cafe Taza's coffee we have Wegmans Organic Arabica at home.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Just cereal in the morning; I'm a purest. OK, OK, maybe the occasional scone.

Any treat for Penelope on this occasion?

Penelope gets enough treats from the crumbs from people at Taza!

How were you and Penelope united?

Penelope was brought into our arms when a friend of ours was getting a Chihuahua from a breeder in North Townawanda. The breeder had a friend who had miniature pinscher pups and she was the calmest one in the bunch, just looking up at us and the rest is history.

How did she get her name?

Well... If I were to explain the entire 6 year run of the TV show LOST to you, this would be a different blog. Penelope is named after Penelope Widmore Hume, a character and if I may say so the prettiest one on the show. Kind of obsessed. Penelope is also the lead woman in Homer's Odyssey in which the character in LOST is named after!

What's Penelope's role in your art?

Penelope has one contribution = lap warmer.

What's an ordinary day like for Penelope?

Well, she gets up at 7, has a light breakfast, goes back to sleep, wakes up, demands my attention, we walk to Taza, come home, begs me for my lunch, naps again, sits on my lap til Ben gets home, eats dinner and then watches movies snuggled in between the two of us all night long.

Who is Penelope's best pet-pal?

She has a few, including Patrick the Shih-tzu downstairs from us and Daisy the Yorkie, Ben's boss's dog.

What's Penelope's best quality?

Penelope's best quality is her sensitivity. She almost looks as though she cares about your well being. If I am down and out, she somehow knows it and snuggles up on my neck to almost hug me.

What's Penelope's proudest moment so far? Her most embarrassing?

Proudest = beat up two chihuahuas. Most embarrassing = fell in the in-laws' pool and didn't know how to swim.

If Penelope could change one thing about you or Ben, what would it be?

We won the lottery and would never leave her alone at home again.

Visit Michael Harmon's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bruce Littlefield & Westminster

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Bruce Littlefield, a best-selling author, lifestyle expert, and seeker of all things fun. My pal Westminster is a 6-year-old male “medley.” (There are prominent notes of Border Collie and cattle dog, with undertones of terrier.)

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

There’s this “only in New York” routine called “alternate side parking,” which means twice a week the car has to be double parked for an hour so the street cleaner can come through and do its thing. Westminster and I move the car together. He loves to sit in the front seat and people watch while I sip my coffee and catch up on phone calls.

What's brewing?

I buy Dunkin Donuts beans and grind them in my Cuisinart coffee maker. I love my monkey coffee mug designed by my book illustrator Paul Heath.

Any goodies for your or Westminster to go with the coffee?

Occasionally, I’ll sneak a piece of dark chocolate with my coffee. Rather than coffee, Westminster likes to bring along his rubber chicken and gets one of his favorite beef jerky treats when we finish the task of moving the car.

How were you and Westminster united?

Westminster was in a very strategically placed rescue van outside the Westminster Dog Show. From the moment we met, it was love at first sight.

How did Westminster get his name? Any aliases?

I loved the irony of a mutt being named “Westminster.” That’ll show ‘em! He also goes by “Wes.” His cousins call him “Westie” and the doormen in our building like to playfully call him “Wesley.”

What role if any does Westminster play in your writing?

He’s my sidekick, my muse, and is the inspiration for The Bedtime Book for Dogs. One day I was working away at my computer on a book project, and he obviously wanted my attention. When I looked down at him, I asked, “What? You want me to write you a book?” He wagged his tail and this tale was born. It was a real “aha!” moment. He’s retained an attorney to claim any and all royalties.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

One of Wes’s favorite activities is stalking and then startling squirrels. He seems to find great humor in their sudden panic. He also loves when the UPS truck comes down the driveway at the country house. The woman driver is a dog person and always brings him a treat. If we’re not home, she leaves a package with a treat on top.

Tennis ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

He loves all things that squeak, but his two most cherished toys are his Frisbee and his rubber chicken [photo left]. He’s an amazing Frisbee catcher and the rubber chicken is his favorite thing to take on walks in the city. It’s a real vaudeville act. The old ladies love it.

Where is Westminster's favorite places for outings?

He loves running with me along the Hudson River in Riverside Park and on the tractor trails near our country house. He also loves New York City’s sidewalk cafes and any car trip, particularly when it involves a cow drive-by.

Who are Westminster's best pet-pals?

He loves Bella the Beagle. They like to play hide and seek. And he also loves Sophie the GoldenDoodle. They often take romantic beach walks together.

What is Westminster's best quality?

He’s kind, a truly good dog.

What is Westminster's proudest moment? Most embarrassing?

He loves appearing on stage or TV with me. He seems to relish the attention of the audience and the act of performing. Most embarrassing? Well, he’ll be very upset I told you this, but when he was a puppy, he was caught eating his poop. He’s never lived that one down!

Bruce Littlefield is a best-selling author, lifestyle expert, and an arbiter of American fun. He shares his passionate curiosity (and occasional mischievousness) with millions of people through his books and appearances on NBC’s Today Show and CBS’s Early Show. His new book is The Bedtime Book for Dogs.

Visit Bruce Littlefield's website and Facebook page.

Writers Read: Bruce Littlefield.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 24, 2011

Paty Jager & Tink, Boots, and T-Bone

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi, I'm Paty Jager. I'm the author of nine historical and contemporary western romance novels. My side kick, Tink, believes she's my muse. Being a Miniature pinscher and Chihuahua mix she is the right size to squeeze onto my lap when I'm writing, and therefore, she believes she is the ghost writer of all my books. She's been on all of my research trips. Gold mining in Sumpter, OR, checking out the historical center in The Dalles, taking a trek up the gravel roads of Silver City, ID and she's even been to several book signings, wearing a tiny cowboy hat. Tink believes she's a person and ignores the two cow dogs. Boots, a Border collie, and T-Bone, a Red heeler/Australian shepherd mix who help us move our thirty head of cattle. And the two Mini-aussies we're keeping for our daughter.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We heard about Coffee with a Canine from another dog lover and had to stop in and check it out and see if you have tasty treats. Tink's cute face always gets her a treat.

What's brewing?

I'm a green tea drinker- especially green tea with honey, lemon, ginseng.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

T-Bone and Tink have sweet tooths and will consider just about anything a treat, but Boots is a picky eater. While T-Bone might take half your hand when you give her a treat, the other two are very polite. So feed them first.

How were you and your dogs united?

Shortly after we bought our 70 acre ranch, a friend showed up at our door with T-Bone as a puppy. He picked the dog up for his daughter, and she didn't want her. Since she was a cow dog and my husband can never turn down a puppy face, she stayed. She hasn't been much of a cow dog, but she has such a happy go lucky personality you can't help but smile when you look at her. That was 14 years ago.

A year later a man was selling Border collie puppies out of the trunk of his car at the local feed store. My husband was there and the man told him this last pup and fallen out of the trunk and hurt herself, and if he didn't find someone to take her he was going to kill her. So my husband brought her home, and she has been his shadow ever since. She has the best cow instincts I've ever witnessed in a cow dog.

We'd lost a house dog and moved into a new house. I told my husband I didn't want another house dog, but an elderly couple who are good friends had a small dog that I made over every time I saw him. And low and behold, one day the couple showed up at my house saying, "Come on, you get pick of the litter." Their little male had sired a litter of pups and they were giving me the pick of the litter. I went along and sitting in the middle of eight puppies, I picked out Tink. She had a little crook in her tail but she had the same coloring as three other females. The owner of the mother said she couldn't tell which one I wanted and I might as well take her with me that day. She was 4 weeks old and fit in the palm of my hand. My husband and I wouldn't know what to do if something happened to her. She's been our enjoyment the last five years now that the kids are all raising their own families.

How did the dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Tink is short for Tinkerbelle. Because she was so small when we first got her, I wanted a name that fit something small and dainty. Our friends and kids call her Stinker.

Boots… I'm not sure why my husband picked that name. He just did and it stuck, but I like to call her Tootsie.

T-Bone- The person who gave her to us said that was her name because the white on her face looked like a T-bone. And she's just T-bone.

What role have your dogs played in your writing?

As I said above, Tink thinks she's my muse. She sits on my lap when I write, travels on road trips, and attends book signings. But the outside dogs have influenced cow dogs in my contemporary novels. I've used some of their personalities in fictitious dogs in Perfectly Good Nanny and Bridled Heart. One is a cow dog mix like T-Bone and the other a Border collie.

Do your dogs have a favorite place to go for an outing?

Tink likes riding in the car, but she especially likes to ride on tractors. My husband fixed up boxes on every tractor so she can ride along. If she's at the house and hears a tractor start at the barn she heads down there and the next time I see my husband and the tractor Tink is riding in her box. Boots and T-Bone like to ride on the hay trailer in the winter when we feed the cows.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

T-Bone and Boots- Cat, Sage Rat, Rock Chuck.

Tink – mice and voles.

What is each dog's best quality?

Tink- Peppy character and doesn't bark.

T-Bone- happy face and attitude.

Boots- Sweet and cattle savvy.

If your dogs could change one thing about you, what would it be?

They'd have me handing out treats every hour.

What is each dog's proudest moment? Her most embarrassing?

Proudest for Tink would be when she chased a rabbit out of my flowers. It took her some time to get up the gumption to chase it. It was bigger than her. Her embarrassing moment: when our daughter's mini aussie rolled Tink. She got up looking so befuddled.

T-Bone's proudest moment would be when she finally caught a rock chuck she'd had cornered in a rock pile for several hours. Embarrassing: chasing a cow out of a pasture we'd just put her in.

Boots' proudest moment would be when she herded five heifers out of one pen and into the next just with my husband giving her hand commands. Most embarrassing would be when she fell from the hay trailer and caught her leg in the stake pocket and dislocated it.

Visit Paty Jager's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kris Tualla & Pepper

Who is in the photo at right?

This is a year-old photo of my camera-shy mixed-breed, Pepper. I'm certain her name is self-explanatory. She was a rescue pup back in October of 1995, and we have no idea what she is!

That's me, Kris Tualla, in the photo below left.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I'm working on my 7th historical novel - the hero is a deaf private investigator in 1700's Norway - and a little caffeine does help awaken the muse! Pepper is always by my side, no matter where I am in the house or what I'm doing. She's deaf now, too. Maybe she knows.

What's brewing?

Freshly ground beans, Starbucks from Costco (I'm not a rich author - yet) made strong, drunk with half-n-half. No sugar or flavors.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

You are so cruel. I'd love a cherry fritter. What I'm having is strictly imaginary.

Any treat for your dog on this occasion?

At the risk of offending purists, Pepper always gets a bit of whatever I'm eating. She watches me and if I don't offer immediately she walks out of the room, walks back in a different door as if to say, "Oh look - here I am!" She does this expecting each "appearance" to generate a handout. She's actually 25% successful with that ploy.

How were you and Pepper united?

We had to put a 5-year-old Cocker Spaniel down and were heartbroken, as you might imagine. There was a poster in the vet's office advertising the 3-month-old rescue pups which they thought were Dalmatian and Springer Spaniel. (Um… No.) My youngest daughter and I went to see them and we fell in love with the shy little girl.

Does Pepper have any influence on your writing?

Not her specifically. But my love for dogs - and their love for us humans - inspired a chapter in my first novel. Unfortunately, I had to cut the chapter, but I released it as a short story. Your readers can download it for free here.

How did you come up with Pepper's name? Any aliases?

She's white with tiny black spots all over. "Pepper" was obvious. We call her Pepper-la-wepper… Peps-la-weps… Peeper…

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Cats. Definitely.

Tennis ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Rawhide chews. Mostly to hoard and keep away from the other dogs who have passed through our home.

Where is your dog's favorite place for outings?

My husband takes her on long walks through our Phoenix suburban neighborhood. At 16, she still enjoys it!

Who are Pepper's best pet-pals?

My son's dogs and my precious grand-puppies: Teva and Bella. Before our son bought a house and moved out, they were puppies in our home. Pepper kept them in line [Teva and Pepper, photo above left].

What is Pepper's best quality?

She is scarily smart. At 8 months old, she figured out that if she stood up and pushed down on our lever-style door knobs she could push a door open. Then a year later, she figured out how to push down with one paw and pull with the other. The first day she came out of a closed bedroom, I didn't believe it. But she did it successfully for years.

What is your dog's proudest moment? Most embarrassing?

Pepper has always been uber-concerned with following the rules and doing the right thing. She strives to understand what is expected, and behaves accordingly. As such, there are no "missteps." True story.

Visit Kris Tualla's website, blog, and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 20, 2011

Michele Young-Stone & Emma Peel and Chauncey

Michele Young-Stone is a novelist. Her debut novel The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors came out last year to wide acclaim and is now available in paperback. Last year she appeared here to answer a few questions about her sweet dog, Emma Peel (after Emma on the British TV show The Avengers) [photo right].

I asked the author to update us on the canines in her life. Her reply:
Emma Peel, our dog for fifteen years, died on May 29th. We are heartbroken. She was our first daughter. She was the reason my husband and I bought our first house. She was the reason we put up the picket fence; the reason we had a pet-friendly wedding. She was our ring-bearer!

She also went on our honeymoon with us. It is impossible for me to express how much I miss her.

In all of my novels, I try to include dogs. In my third novel, The Saints of Los Vientos, I wrote Emma into the book two days before she passed away.

There are two dogs in The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors, both based on real well-loved animals.

I remember that when I was getting my MFA, I told my screenwriting professor, “I can handle a person dying on screen a lot easier than I can handle a dog dying.”

I like to think that Emma is eating all the chocolate she wants in Doggie Heaven!

RIP sweet girl, 1998-2011.

Fortunately, we have another dog, Chauncey (nickname) [photo left]. He was given to us by a wonderful couple who loved him so much that they wanted him to have someone to play with (presumably our six-year old son), but the truth is, we all play ball with Chauncey. His first name (on his American Kennel Club papers) is Sir Thomas Peanut. He’s so funny that the name nearly suits him. He’s a beautiful and sweet Cocker Spaniel who loves to run and chase birds and squirrels. He climbed to the top of Crabtree Falls with us.

So far, he’s not a coffee drinker. He likes water and biscuits. No carrots, but he’d probably like a sandwich from the coffee shop.

Chauncey, whose second name was Naz, added at least six months to Emma Peel’s life. He was sweet to her. The two of them slept back to back when they weren’t arguing over which TV show to watch. Chauncey likes 30 Rock but Emma Peel preferred reruns of Arrested Development.
Read an excerpt from The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors, and learn more about the book and author at Michele Young-Stone's website, blog, and Facebook fan page.

The Page 69 Test: The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors.

Coffee with a Canine: Michele Young-Stone & Emma (May 2010).

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 17, 2011

Lisa Begin-Kruysman & Hooper

Lisa, I recognize you and Hooper (in the photo at left) from when you were guests here last fall. What's brewing today?

Today we are enjoying a nice Kona Blend, whole bean. We've taken to grinding our beans, something we started when we inherited a machine that does the grinding and brewing. We are a little behind the times. Hooper got some leftover cereal and an organic treat I got at a dog fair.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine this time around?

These busy days, I need all the energy I can "brew" up. Less than two weeks ago, I published a collection of six short stories as a Kindle e-book on Amazon and now I'm busy promoting it. Something's Lost and Must be Found tells six distinct stories about some special search and rescue dogs of the soul. It is under 26,000 words. The Title Story follows a mother as she struggles with one of life's greatest losses. Human Directional presents a young man as he discovers for himself the underside of the puppy mill world and The House of the Happy Dog (the longest) follows a Bouvier de Flandres named Simon as he searches for his Fourth and Truest Home. My adopted catchphrase is, "Sometimes it's not just the dog that's lost." I've been letting people know about it through the book's dedicated Facebook page and my blog and it's been doing nicely over in the Amazon rankings. I think its a short and engaging read, perfect for the summering reading season. I hope to have a softcover version available in the coming months.

When you were last here you were just about to celebrate Dog Fest there in Brick Township. How did the event go?

It was phenomenal. They will be having DogFest II on September 18th of this year, just in time for the 83rd observation of National Dog Week. We had great weather and big crowds ... the kids loved it! This year promises to be bigger and better. I've also reserved a display case in our town's library to fill with dog books to honor National Dog Week.

I read on your blog that you occasionally visit Florida. Does Hooper like it better there or at home in New Jersey?

Great question. We love the Keys and St. Augustine and our family goal is to spend more time there. I am so inspired to write when I'm there, I wrote two of those short stories on our visit in March. I've read that more best sellers have been written there than anywhere else! I sure hope that' true. And Hooper loves the dog-friendly beach and gets to do what a Portuguese water dog loves best, swim and run. She is not always great in warm climes, so she does seek the shade and cool spots. We also attended the second occurrence of WoofStock, another very successful dog-event in Islamorada in the Keys.

Learn more about the short story collection, Something's Lost and Must be Found.

Read the September 2010 Coffee with a Canine Q & A with Lisa Begin-Kruysman and Hooper.

Lisa Begin-Kruysman's National Dog Week Movement blog and connect with the National Dog Week Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Barbara & Trixie and Minnie

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s Minnie and Trixie. Since I’m single, we don’t have any pictures of us all together!

I’m Barbara, a bookkeeper by day, a writer by night and a caretaker for my mom and my brother with Alzheimer’s. Trixie is believed to be a greyhound/spaniel mix and is seven and Minnie is probably a Rottweiler/Boxer and she’s a little over a year old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I couldn’t start my day without coffee. If you cut me, I bleed coffee.

What's brewing?

Plain old Folger’s, although I make it in a 1966 Sunbeam percolator. I use a heavy sprinkling of non-dairy creamer.

Any treat for you and your dogs on this occasion?

All my treats are shared with the pups. They are quite spoiled. We all like sweets. They are fond of Kleenex, however…something I just can’t get into.

How were you and Trixie and Minnie united?

I got Trix from a rescue in Lakeport, CA – she was “mis-aged”. They told me she was about 10 weeks old, but she was only seven weeks. She has always been a neurotic Diva dog. I found Minnie on the lawn across the street from my house, abandoned and very sick with worms. No one came for her, so I kept her. Of course I treated her worms while waiting. She’s always been the affectionate “I wanna be by you” dog.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Dad and I named Trixie after trying to come up with truck stop waitress names. My neighbor started calling Minnie “Mousy” when I found her – I didn’t like Mousy, but she responded to “M”, so I came up with Minnie.

Cat, rabbit, postman...?

We don’t have rabbits, but if you substituted “squirrel”, I’d answer “all of the above”.

Tennis ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Surprisingly, neither cares much for toys. Minnie is into cardboard boxes, dog food bags and digging.

Where is your dogs' favorite place for an outing?

Both hate the car, but Minnie is learning that the dog park is a cool ending to a car ride.

If Trixie and Minnie could change one thing about you, what would it be?

I’m not home all day and that I’m really lazy.

What is each dog's proudest moment? Most embarrassing?

Proudest: Minnie caught a rat.

Trixie can get any toy by name. She just won’t play with them.

Embarrassing? Trixie always poops when there is someone in the backyard.

Minnie jerked me from the front door, across a flower bed and onto the lawn when I had contractors here. It wasn’t embarrassing for her, but for me…well, it wasn’t my finest moment.

Visit Barbara's "If I Didn't Have a Sense of Humor" blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 13, 2011

Andrea & Benny and Lily

Who is in the photo at right?

Our Coffee Date landed us at the beach. Benny and Lily are 4-year-old French Bulldogs.

That's me, Andrea, in the photo below left. I am originally from the east coast and now reside in beautiful California. My profession: let's just say I have a career in law enforcement.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Following my grande latte extra hot please and Lily's visit to the V-E-T I decided a beach walk was in store.

What's brewing?

Brewing.... Are 3 favorites OK? JJ Beans flavored coffee or Coffee Importers coffee or a Starbucks latte extra hot.

Any treat for you and your dogs on this occasion?

The biggest treat was letting them run and dig in the sand. Afterwards dried liver and salmon treats were the perfect choice to end their day.

How were you and Benny & Lily united?

I always wanted a French Bulldog. I came across a breeder and there Lily [photo right] was, 8 weeks old. I was suddenly hooked on French Bulldogs.

Benson, a.k.a Benny is from a show dog French Bulldog family in Pennsylvania. He was 11 months old when I had him driven to the Grand Canyon where me and a friend picked him up. Following the initial introduction, Lily wondered when this "Benson" kid was going home... Now she loves him and they are inseparable.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Lily, well, I love the name and thought it was a good fit for a little French girl.

Benson, a.k.a Benny was already named when I adopted him. He also calls himself a "Chick Magnet."

Cat, rabbit, postman...?

Lily prefers squirrels. Benny on the other hand will stick with the bunnies.

Tennis ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Lily has had a white stuffie dog since she was 8 weeks old and still plays with it. Otherwise, a small tennis ball will do. She plays constantly.

Benny is not going to be happy I am telling you this but his favorite toy is a small pink Ugg. Otherwise the first toy out of the toy box is as good as any.

Where is Benny & Lily's favorite place for an outing?

Benny and Lily love car rides, going to their friends Annie's house and of course the beach.

If Benny & Lily could change one thing about you, what would it be?

They would probably tell me to quit work and let's go for walks and more walks and more walks.

What is each dog's proudest moment?

Benny and Lily are volunteers for the French Bulldog Rescue Network. They are very proud when they are asked to volunteer.

And their most embarrassing moment?

Embarrassing, I accidentally scared Benny when he was laying in the sun. He jumped a mile and looked at me like he was mortified. He got lots of hugs after that one.

Lily: she was barking at a stuffed monkey until I showed her it was not real.

Visit Benny and Lily's blog and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 10, 2011

Man Martin & Zoe

Who is in the photo at right?

Zoe, a Chow-Golden Retriever mix. And me, Man Martin, author.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Whenever I have a free day, I enjoy sitting on the patio in the morning drinking coffee and writing with Zoe and my chicken, Sorche. She’s a barred roc bantam.

What's brewing?

Very strong Colombian coffee. My wife and I are somewhat coffee snobs and feel coffee’s too weak unless you can stand a spoon upright in it.

Any goodies for Sorche, you, or Zoe to go with the coffee?

Sorche pecks at some beet greens nearby or scratches for earthworms. Being a true omnivore, she must eat a certain amount of sand and pebble as part of her regular diet. Zoe licks herself. Me, I just stick to coffee.

Rumor has it that Zoe knows how to spell. What's the story?

When Zoe was little, if we said the word “walk,” she’d go crazy running around in anticipation. To save her disappointment, Nancy and I took to spelling it out. For a while that worked, but then she’d go crazy when she heard W-A-L-K. As a result, Nancy and I had to re-arrange the letters, throwing in Qs and Xs just to throw Zoe off track. K-L-A-W, Q-W-A-E-R-L-K. Like that. Consequently the poor dog never did learn to spell, a shortcoming for which Nancy and I have only ourselves to blame.

Does Zoe have any role in your books and writing life?

My new book Paradise Dogs has nothing to do with Zoe or canines at all; it refers to hotdogs. I don’t worry about Zoe being disillusioned, however, because, as I have already mentioned, she can’t spell worth a lick.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Zoe loves to chase squirrels, but fortunately for the squirrels is not very good at it. The squirrel invariably dashes to the backside of the nearest tree and then straight up. Zoe is infallibly mystified by this maneuver, and is left staring stupidly in the wrong direction like a yokel who’s been duped ten times in a row by the same magic trick.

Where is Zoe's favorite place for outings?

We have a wonderful park nearby with a trail that winds around a lake and with plenty of other dogs, not to mention geese and ducks. In the springtime the goslings hatch and we watch them mature day by day as we walk. In the summer, it’s the ducklings’ turn. There seem to be a certain number of snapping turtles or some other predator, because there’s always considerable inventory shrinkage among the young ones. Harsh, I suppose, but otherwise the lake would pretty soon be wall-to-wall ducks and geese and besides, snapping turtles got to eat too, you know. In the springtime, there is also a plant, which a friend says is a variety of privet bush, with such sweet-smelling flowers, it’s not an exaggeration to say the fragrance almost makes you dizzy.

Who are Zoe's best pet-pals?

Our next-door neighbor has a Morkie named Mia (a cross between a Maltese and Yorkie) that frequently comes to visit. She and Zoe get along famously which makes life very good when either we or our neighbor have to go out of town.

If Zoe could change one thing about your wife, what would it be?

Nancy has very severe opinions on the topic of Dogs-Sleeping-in-Beds-with-People. I am inclined to take a more latitudinarian view, which Zoe finds broad-minded and reasonable. When Nancy is out of town, there is a sufficient shift in the balance of power that Zoe gets to sleep where she likes.

What is Zoe's best quality?

This is corny and something every dog owner will say, but love. She has a sense of humor and a joie de vivre, that fills your heart to see. She is an athlete, and in good weather, will run circles in the front yard, pivoting with one shoulder so low to the ground, the grass blades must tickle it. She is very good at sitting and will “stay” most of the time, especially if she has reason to believe there’s a treat involved. But her best quality is love. I defy anyone who has felt the utter, un-self-conscious love of a dog not to feel love in return.

Visit Man Martin's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Nicole & Macho

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Nicole! I live in metro Detroit with my boyfriend, Nick (in the picture with me), and my Chihuahua, Macho. I work in digital advertising at an agency in Detroit.

The second picture [below left] is me with Macho. He is approximately 5 years old based on his health. Macho’s blog is called The Macho Minute.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I had to drive Nick to the airport early in the morning, so I stopped by a Starbucks on my way home.

What's brewing?

I wasn’t sure what I would want, but they had a new iced coffee drink with Mocha and Coconut in it. Since it’s so nice out, I decided to go for that (and it’s pretty delicious).

Any goodies for you or Macho to go with the coffee?

Nope, just the coffee!

How were you and your dog united?

This is a long one- Back in July of 2009, there was a terrible local news story here in Detroit about a man who was a hoarder of garbage- and Chihuahuas. After neighbors complained of a terrible odor coming from the house, police came to check it out. When they saw one Chihuahua outside, they called a local animal shelter. Inside they found over 100 live Chihuahuas, and after further investigation found about 150 dead Chihuahuas inside Ziploc bags in freezers. A video about the house is here if you want to know more about where Macho came from. Flash forward to November where I am reading the newspaper online at work. I had been following the Chihuahua story since it happened, so when a story showed up online about the case, I had to read it. I clicked on the story, and the first thing to load was the cutest dog I have ever seen with one floppy ear. I knew right away that I had to have him. I read the caption of the picture and it said that this dog, named Macho, was one of two last Chihuahuas from the house that needed to be adopted. One month later, I picked up Macho from the animal shelter!

Why "Macho"...and does he have any aliases?

I absolutely loved the name the shelter gave him, so we kept it. But Macho has a ton of nicknames. A few of our favorites are Macho Poochu (like Maccu Piccu), Pooper, Poochie Pie, Pooch-a-loop, and Macho Man (like the song!).

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Macho ignores everything! But I don’t think he has ever seen a cat or a squirrel in his life, so that might freak him out.

Tennis ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Again, Macho ignores toys. I bought him a ton of toys. When he never played with them, I donated them to the animal shelter where I adopted him from. He does enjoy a good bully stick though.

What's an ordinary day like for Macho?

Macho loves sleeping in our bed. When I say love, I mean L-O-V-E loves it. In the morning, he will refuse to get up, and he is especially mad when Nick is out of town for work so he has to get up earlier than usual. On days when he sleeps in a little longer with Nick, he likes to wake up, sit on the couch, and try to sip Nick’s coffee while they watch the news. Then I’m pretty sure he sleeps the entire time we are at work until about 6ish when I get home. When I get home he loves to play this little “game” with me where he sprints into the bedroom, jumps on the bed, and does this goofy running thing at me. It’s cute, and I have a video to post on his blog of it. Then he just hangs out all night watching us cook dinner and then cuddling on the couch before he gets really excited to go back to bed.

Who are Macho's best pet-pals?

Just me and Nick! Macho is afraid of a lot of people, and I don’t blame him. His first few years of life were probably very confusing and scary, so he doesn’t trust easy. He will ignore all other people, but if Nick or I are near him, he will allow strangers to come up and pet him. He does well with other dogs and will mostly ignore them as well. He will sniff and be a little curious, but not too much.

What is Macho's best quality?

My favorite quality of Macho’s is that he is so curious about everything. It is especially cute because he is unsure if he should be scared of the object he is curious about or not. The first time he saw me knitting, he was starring at me trying to figure out what I was doing. I held up the knitting needle to let him sniff it, and he took the slowest, most curious bite of the needle. Sometimes Nick and I will sit there trying to be quiet and not laugh when he is checking out something new because it’s so adorable.

What is Macho's proudest moment? Most embarrassing?

For proudest, it is definitely the first time he had a leash on without freaking out. Macho hated the leash when we first started trying to get him to get used to it. It got to the point where he would fight us whenever we tried to put it on his collar. Once it was on, he would not let us touch the leash or he would start trying to pull away. When we finally got a dog trainer to work with Macho, she was able to get him to calm down with the leash attached to his collar. The best day was when Macho sat down next to me on the floor while I was holding the leash and let me pet him. It was a great day.

Macho doesn’t really have an embarrassing day, but he definitely has a day where we were both pretty terrified. The animal shelter where Macho was adopted from had a Chihuahua reunion for all the dogs rescued from the house. I wanted so badly for Macho to go, so I took him in his carrier to the event. Everyone wanted to see him, so I thought just maybe he would be ok on a leash. He had his collar on, and I put a harness on him as well. I attached the leash to the harness, let him out of the car, and everything was ok for about 30 seconds. Then when Macho realized that he was on a leash outside, he tried to run away from me by backing up. I bent down to try to calm him down, but that scared him even more causing him to back right out of the harness. I reached down and grabbed his collar, and that came right off over his head. Now I am standing in a parking lot outside with my terrified dog and nothing on him to hold onto. I instantly reached for his leg and held on for dear life. He scooted under my car, and I literally had to drag him out from under it until I could pick him up. I jumped back into the car with him where we were both out of breath and terrified at what could have happened. I still think about those few seconds that happened so quick where I could have lost Macho forever!

Visit The Macho Minute blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pia Bernardino & Bruno, Bini, and Bogo

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Pia Bernardino. I am a blogger working on my very first novel, I love to read books and watch movies what better way than to have a blog that contains my insights on the latest books or movies I’ve read or seen. In addition, it is always awesome to connect with fellow bloggers like yourself so I’m always game in doing cross blogs.

My husband Bong and I have three dogs:

Bruno, an Ori Pei (male)

Bini, [in the photo with me at right] a Corgi mix (female)

Bogo, [in the photo with Bong, below left] Chihuahua (male)

They are all 5 years old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

All five of us go on a Saturday walk in the Park and then have a coffee and donut at Starbucks.

What's brewing?

Skinny Caramel Latte.

Any treat for you and your dogs on this occasion?

Cheese Danish for me and a small piece of Danish for them.

How were you and your dogs united?

Here’s the entire story:

Imagine a cute, innocent and tiny 5-year-old girl (my mom said I was cute). Back then, my bestfriend was Bernice and as what friends did, we visited each other. On a day that I would always remember as the day a monstrous beast attacked me, believe me something close to that happened. At Bernice's home a large and ferociously terrifying dog ran toward me. The dog was growling as it approached its next meal - me. I was trembling and felt like no one was there to help, so I ran; since their condo unit was quite small, I ran in circles. The dog caught the edge of my skirt and while biting he continued to growl. At that point, I was in shock and above all was I was traumatized.

If you are wondering what dog attacked me, it was a pekingese. Yes, I am aware of their size and cuteness factor now, but, if you were as tiny as me when I was 5, you too would identify with my fear.

Because of that, I grew up believing that all dogs were my enemy. Bong on the other hand loves dogs, in fact he grew up in a home with fifteen dogs and in Jersey, he had a white samoyed, Blanchie, who said goodbye to him and the world at 12. I was thankful that Bong never pushed the issue about me and dogs.

My fear prevailed until we moved to Seattle and something changed within me, initially maybe it was curiosity. One day, I asked Bong if we could visit the pet store nearby. There was this fawn colored tiny little girl (like I once was) that caught my attention, she was so cute that right then and there I named her Bini. To prove that I would love, care for and be good to the dog and because Bong was so patient with me, we went to the store every day for two weeks and spent at least two hours playing with Bini. Because of our frequent visits and aside from getting to know the owners, Bong noticed this wrinkly designer breed, and another dog caught our hearts, he was barely a pound and was being bullied by his sister/litter mate.

On September 1, 2006, our lives changed - we brought Bini, Bruno (the wrinkly masculine dog) and Bogo (our mini Chihuahua) home. By the way, Bini is not tiny anymore; let's put it this way-- she now waddles. They are now part of our family. My trauma transformed into love for our three loyal dogs.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Hubby chose the name Bruno as it is such a good fit for him, very masculine (well, just don’t relate it to the movie with Sasha Cohen Baron).

I named Bini (bini) which means lady in Tagalog.

We both named Bogo (buy one, get one).

Cat, rabbit, postman...?


Is there a dog in your novel-in-progress?

There is still a long way to go with my novel; I don’t think that on my very first one there will be.

Tennis ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Yes to all. All three dogs love toys. Bogo loves whatever Bruno has.

Where is your dogs' favorite place for an outing?

We just like walking in the park or on a trail nearby. Actually, all three love to help us as we do our landscaping work on our backyard.

If your dogs could change one thing about you, what would it be?

Maybe Bogo would tell me to stop calling him my Princess because he is a boy (he’s 3 lbs!)

What is each dog's proudest moment? Most embarrassing?

For Bruno, it was when he was barely 1 and was still a very tiny. We lived on the second floor and Bong and I were downstairs calling on Bruno who was on at the very top of the steps. At first he was apprehensive to go down, but after several calls he braved the stairs. When Bruno sets him mind on something, he does it.

Visit Pia Bernardino's "So Many Books, Here's Mine" blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 3, 2011

Jennifer & Moxie

Who is in the photo at right?

The human in the photo is me, Jennifer, and the dog is Moxie. I'm a writer/screenwriter from New York who moved to Paris a few months back to see if I could carve out a life for myself here. I don't think I would have lasted this long if I didn't have Moxie with me. I also write the blog Jennyphoria.

As far as this photo goes, this is what happens every time I attempt to take a picture of us together. This was the best of the ten or so photos I took.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Unfortunately, I don't get to spend as much time with Moxie as I'd like to during the week, so when the weekend comes, I try to do something special with her. As friendly as Paris is to their dogs, allowing them in most restaurants and shops, they bizarrely don't allow them in many parks. We live near the Jardin des Tuileries, which is one of the few where dogs can go. So, this weekend I took her to the Tuileries for a few good games of catch.

And I never need an excuse to drink more coffee.

What's brewing?

I made a Peruvian blend using my French press.

Any treats for you or Moxie on this occasion?

Paris has been very lucky for Moxie in the treats department. When I lived in the US, I never ate cheese. But here, it's a completely different story. There are so many varieties and they are so fresh.... Moxie never misses a chance to perform for a piece or to lick my plate clean.

How were you and Moxie united?

I had wanted a dog for as long as I could remember, but I didn't want to get one until I knew for sure I would be able to take on the responsibility. When that time finally came (just over three years ago), I went to nine different shelters looking for my perfect dog.

Coincidentally, I found her at the shelter my mom volunteers for, which was the last one I visited since it was farthest away. I thought I wanted a small dog, but I fell for her as soon as I saw her. The rest is history.

How did Moxie get her name? Any nicknames?

Moxie was named Candi by the shelter. I knew for sure I didn't want that name. So, the night before I was to take her home, my mom and I stayed up discussing names. We jokingly went through all the celebrity baby names we could think of - Shiloh, Moses, Maddox, Apple, Suri, etc. - and then we went on to the stranger baby names - Pilot Inspektor, Bronx Mowgli, etc. - and it was here that we got lucky. Penn Jillette, of Penn & Teller fame, had a daughter named Moxie CrimeFighter. I thought that was the perfect name for a dog, so Moxie's moniker was born.

What are the biggest differences in Moxie's Parisian life from her American days?

Sadly, I think the biggest difference is that she got to play with more dogs in America. We knew a lot of local pups and we lived near Prospect Park, which is huge and has great off-leash hours. She was also able to play with my Mom's dog fairly often. Here, dog encounters are fewer and farther between.

But it's not all bad. People are very friendly with her. She gets stopped and petted and fussed over by strangers more here, which is lovely. It seems like there's a natural kind of reverence for the companionship of a dog in France. She also gets to come with me to more places than she did in America. I'll often bring her with me to nearby cafes for lunch or dinner.

There are definite trade-offs, but I think as we meet more people and more dogs, she'll only get happier.

A friend once told me about meeting an Australian dog who didn't offer his paw to shake unless the request was made with an Australian accent. Does Moxie recognize her name when spoken with a French accent?

Fortunately her name sort of sounds the same with a French accent, so that's good. But I think if but if you were to ask her to shake in a French accent she probably wouldn't understand. She has difficulty even with native speakers if their accents are different from mine, say Southern or British. If they give a command and I repeat it, she'll usually understand what they mean when they say it again. She really attentive and tries very hard to please.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Oh, she loves cats. "Kitty" is one of her favorite words. I think if she could find a cat who wanted to be friends she would be in heaven. Squirrels are a different story. Those she likes to chase and tree. As for the postman, it would depend. If she met them on the street, she'd happily lick their hand. If they knocked on our door, she'd bark like crazy.

What is an ordinary day like for Moxie?

She wakes up and stares at me until I also wake up. We go for a walk around the block and then we have breakfast. After that, it's different day-by-day. Generally, I leave for a while, she works on the Great American Novel or solves crimes or does whatever it is dogs do when you leave them alone, and then I return and she pretends she's been napping.

I'll take her for another, longer, walk, and play a few games of catch or our version of soccer. I feed her and then go out again. This is when Moxie practices her you've-broken-my-heart puppy face. She's very talented.

When I come home for the night, we go for one more walk and then go home to chat about our days.

What is your dog's best quality?

She is the sweetest dog imaginable. She just wants to make me happy. She's never mean or malicious or vengeful. She's friendly and loving and shy and trusting. She's smart and she tries really hard. Her best quality is how sweet she is, but the best thing about her is how loved she makes me feel.

If Moxie could change one thing about you, what would it be?

One of the best things about having a dog, particularly one that hasn't had previous owners, is that she thinks everything I do is normal. If I burst out into a musical in my living room or dance around like a crazy person, she just thinks this is what people do. There's no judgement.

But what would she change about me? That's easy. I would never, ever go anywhere without her.

What's your dog's proudest moment so far? Her most embarrassing?

She's so funny, my dog. She often gets a pretty proud look on her face for the simplest things.

Moxie was born with a birth defect that left her with under-developed shoulder muscles. For a long time she couldn't sit with her front paws touching the ground or raise her paws high enough to give you a "high five." Through a careful collaboration with the vet and a change in her diet, we were able to seriously increase the mobility in her arms. All of this is to say, I think her proudest moment was the one where she realized she could use her arms to get toys that had fallen under tables and couches.

Moxie does not understand embarrassment. But I can tell you my most embarrassing moment with her in it.... It was a couple years back, when she was still a little puppy. We were on the way to the park to have a picnic to celebrate my birthday. We passed a group of small girls, maybe 5 years old. They, too, were having a birthday picnic. As we were walking past, Moxie suddenly dropped down and pooped. The looks on those girls' faces was sheer horror.

Visit the blog Jennyphoria.

--Marshal Zeringue